Hi, Friends -
Here is some current information regarding my very recent vacation to the Corn Islands, Nicaragua. I hope this information is very helpful for anyone considering visiting that location:
1) I used the 2009 Lonely Planet: Nicaragua guidebook.
2) I stayed at Hotel InterContinental for two non-consecutive nights in Managua, and at Arenas Beach Hotel for six consecutive nights on Big Corn Island. My positive reviews of those hotels should be posted by TripAdvisor shortly.
3) At the Managua airport, you will have to buy a tourist card from the immigration officer for US$10. If your money has any rips or tears or writing on the bill, the officer will hand the money back to you and ask for a newer bill.
4) Random passport checks are conducted by an immigration officer at the Managua airport when waiting to board the La Costena flight to Big Corn Island. The officer also checks passports when arriving on the La Costena flight from Big Corn Island in Managua.
5) Before boarding the La Costena flight to Big Corn Island, you will have to pay a transportation tax of US$2 at the window immediately before the security screening.
6) US Dollars are accepted everywhere on the Corn Islands. Remember to bring small denominations ($1/$5/$10) as most purchases fall within that range. Large denominations ($20/$50/$100) will be difficult to make change for when purchasing most items.
7) 20 Cordoba of Nicaragua = US$1. It is very likely that you will make a purchase with US Dollars and receive Cordobas as change.
8) If you eat at only one restaurant on Big Corn Island, make sure it is Comedor Maris, also known as Danet's. Order a "rundown" of lobster, shrimp, AND fish for an authentic Caribbean meal.
9) Another excellent restaurant is located at Casa Canada. However, Seva's, Fisher's Caves, and Picnic Center served so-so meals.
10) I received many mosquito and sand fly bites on my feet and legs on the Corn Islands, especially around dusk and dawn. I did not use any insect repellant.
11) Power outages (both planned and unplanned) on Big Corn Island occurred about once a day, and lasted between 15 minutes and 2 hours.
12) The hotel known as Anastasia's on Big Corn Island closed about a year ago. Interpol is currently searching for the owner, who has sold the property seven different times to seven different people in a land fraud scheme.
13) Visit George Morgan's house on Big Corn Island for an AMAZING view of a beautiful beach. To arrange this visit, contact Saul the taxi driver, who works with Arenas Beach Hotel.
14) You will be able to buy liquor, food, and some toiletries from the many pulperias (stores) on the Corn Islands. The most well-stocked pulperia on Big Corn Island appeared to be Forbes Commercial Center, located adjacent to the airport runway.
15) You can find great sweet coco bread, referred to as the "bun" by the locals on Big Corn Island, at Sandra's next to the El Isleno store, almost directly across the runway from the Forbes Commercial Center. The sweet "bun" comes hot out of the oven at 3:30pm in the afternoon.
16) Your taxi driver on Big Corn Island may stop along the way and pick up other passengers while he is taking you to your destination. Do not panic, this is normal.
17) On Saturday and Sunday, watch baseball games at the Karen Tucker Stadium on Big Corn Island. Admission, and beverages, are US$1.
18) Visit Nico's on Thursday, Crabbies on Friday, Reggae Palace on Saturday, and Island Style on Sunday to drink, dance, and socialize with the locals. CAUTION: You WILL be offered drugs and prostitutes at some of these locations, especially at Reggae Palace. Watch out for a man named Tyrone (has dreadlocks) and a man who goes by the name of Joseph or Wayne (has facial scars and three gold teeth). They are known troublemakers and will likely approach you to offer drugs or hookers or to take you on a tour of Big Corn Island.
19) Arrive at the airport on Big Corn Island by 2pm if you have a 3:40pm La Costena flight to Managua, or your seat may be sold to someone else even if you already have a reservation.
20) You will have to pay a US$2 transportation tax to leave the Big Corn Island airport on a flight to the mainland.
21) You will have to pay a 3 Cordoba transportation tax at the gate of the main dock on Big Corn Island to board the panga (boat) to Little Corn Island.
22) Sit in the FRONT of the panga if you do not want to get wet on the ride to Little Corn Island.
23) On the Corn Islands, you will notice incredible poverty among the locals when you explore beyond the resorts. Keep this in mind when tipping your waiter/waitress or taxi driver.
24) And last but not least: TALK TO THE LOCAL PEOPLE! Go into town, away from the resort, and MEET THEM!